Discrimination and State Capacity: Evidence from WWII U.S. Army Enlistment
This paper investigates the empirical relationship between inclusion and state capacity, as theorized by Besley and Persson (2009). We examine the impact of racial discrimination on Black U.S. military enlistment during the onset of WWII. We find that discrimination had a large and negative effect on volunteer enlistment after the Pearl Harbor attack. The result is robust to a large number of controls that account for potential confounders. The negative effect of discrimination is moderated by geographical proximity to Pearl Harbor, and is larger for educated men. We provide consistent evidence for Japanese Americans.
We are grateful to Sandeep Baliga, Tim Besley, Filipe Campante, Bruno Caprettini, Leonardo D'Amico, Timothy Fedderssen, Andy Ferrara, Stefano Fiorin, Nicola Fontana, Vicky Fouka, Nicola Gennaioli, Mikhail Golosov, Leander Heldring, Taylor Jaworski, Eliana La Ferrara, Ross Mattheis, Gerard Padro-i-Miquel, Markus Nagler, Emily Nix, Torsten Persson, Guido Tabellini, Edoardo Teso, David Yanagizawa-Drott and David Yang for their insights; the participants of the Bocconi University Development Labor Political Economy, U.C. Davis-Warwick Economic History Seminar, Geottingen Economic Workshop, Dartmouth Applied Economics Workshop, University of West Virginia Economic History Seminar, University of Groningen Applied Seminar, University of Ottawa Economic History Seminar, UBC Economic History Workshop, George Mason Economic History Workshop, Fudan University TED Conference, Kellogg MEDS Faculty Lunch and the Northwestern Economic History Lunch for many useful comments and suggestion. We thank Martina Cuneo, Ricardo Dahis, Silvia Farina, Zhentao Jiang, Monia Tomasella and Lan Wang for excellent research assistance. All mistakes are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.